Benedict XVI’s funeral: How to watch, what to expect

Benedict Pope Benedict XVI leads the recitation of the Holy Rosary during a candlelight vigil at the Catholic shrine of Fatima in central Portugal, May 12, 2010. | M.Mazur/www.thepapalvis

The funeral of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI will be held on Thursday in Rome in St. Peter’s Square at 9:30 a.m. local time. 

For those who wish to watch the funeral live in the United States, it will begin at 3:30 a.m. Eastern Time. EWTN’s live coverage begins at 2:30 a.m. Eastern Time on cable television, as well as on EWTN’s YouTube Channel, Facebook, and website. 

EWTN’s YouTube channel can be found here. Its Facebook can be found here. EWTN’s webpage where the funeral is livestreaming can be found here.

Your local broadcast times for cable television and a full schedule are available here. The funeral broadcast coverage will last approximately three and a half hours.

If you miss the live coverage, EWTN will rebroadcast the funeral on cable the same day at 2:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. Eastern Time. 

Before the funeral Mass, there will be a rosary prayed in St. Peter’s Square. At 8:50 a.m. Central European Standard Time, Benedict’s coffin, which is currently lying in state in St. Peter’s Basilica, will be transported from the basilica for the funeral.

Pope Francis will preside over the funeral Mass.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni told reporters that the funeral Mass for the pope emeritus “roughly follows that reserved for a supreme pontiff” but has some changes.

Bruni said that the Mass will include “some original elements, adaptations due to the particularity of the situation, and others missing that belong to the reigning pontiff.” 

Some of the missing elements, Bruni said, include the “final supplication of the Diocese of Rome and of the Eastern Churches foreseen in the rites that close the funeral of the Ultima Commendatio (Final Commendation) and the Valedictio (Valediction).”

The Mass will be “different,” Bruni said, “not those foreseen by the Lectionary for the ritual Masses.” 

The faithful can follow along with the prayers and readings that were released by the Vatican for the funeral Mass. 

The readings for the Mass will be Isaiah 29:16–19 in Spanish; Psalm 23 sung in Latin; 1 Peter 1: 3–9 in English, and the Gospel of Luke 23: 39–46 read in Italian.

Two countries, Italy and Germany, will be sending official state delegations to attend the funeral. These two nations were the only two countries that were officially invited to send state delegations.

However, other heads of state, in an unofficial capacity, will be attending the funeral as well. This includes the president of Hungary, Katalin Novak; the president of Poland, Andrzej Duda; King Philip of Belgium; and Queen Sofia of Spain, among others. 

President Joe Biden will not be attending the funeral, but Joe Donnelly, the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, will be attending and representing the United States.

When Mass ends, Benedict’s coffin will be brought to the Vatican Grottoes for final burial. He will be laid to rest in the same tomb that St. John Paul II was buried in before his beatification. 

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The casket of St. John Paul II is now located in the upper part of St. Peter’s Basilica. 

As Benedict XVI is carried to his resting place in the crypt, the choir will sing the Magnificat in Latin. He will be buried with a short piece of text that briefly describes the pontificate, which will be inserted in a metal tube.

Bruni said that a ribbon will be placed around Benedict’s coffin. The seals of the Apostolic Chamber, the Pontifical Household, and of the liturgical celebrations will also be placed around the coffin.

Benedict’s zinc coffin will be placed inside a wooden coffin before burial, which will take place privately.

CNA’s coverage of the life of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and his funeral can be read here.

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